SIGNS of the Times

As a writer/editor, I am naturally a word person, but I read everything...and I mean everything! Not just books, magazines, web pages, blog posts, e-mails, and old-fashioned letters, but also cereal box ads, use instructions on shampoo bottles, the small print on my bills, and ingredient listings on packages.

So of course if there's a sign in the vicinity, I read it whether I intend to or not. I've seen lots of things I'd rather not have seen (such as "Glove's for Sale," "Up to 50% off and more!" "Share Our Strength's" and other instances of horrific grammar/spelling/punctuation) but I've also come across some fabulous signs.

Now you can share the joy of signs without having to be obsessed with reading them--that's my job.—P.B.

Pleasant St., Northampton, MA (remnant of a very old Nabisco product, long gone from supermarket shelves)

Portland, Maine (apparently even lobstahs love martinis)

Hadley Garden Center, MA (sign above cat-sized opening says "employee entrance")

...more signs to come in future posts



I waited before blogging about the murder of Dr. George Tiller. I wanted my anger to subside. I wanted to say something healing. I wanted to plead for reason. Screw that! I’m outraged and what I really want to say is that anti-choice groups are the biggest bunch of phonies and hypocrites to come down the pike since Marjoe Gortner. And I want to call them what they are: terrorists.

Think that’s harsh? Randall Terry of Operation Rescue called Tiller, the man gunned down by a fanatic on May 31, a “mass murderer” who authored his own fate. Listen to the words of Regina Dinwiddie (it ought to be Dimwiddie), an anti-choice extremist from Kansas City, who said of Tiller, “I wouldn’t cry for him no more than I would if somebody dropped a rat and killed it.” She also said she was “glad” he was murdered.

You tell me what justifies walking into a church and gunning someone down. Let’s kill abortion doctors for Jesus’s sake!? Let’s kill the born in the name of the unborn!? Let’s stop what we perceive to be mass murder by committing mass murder!? Why do visions of Jesus driving money lenders and hypocrites from the Temple dance in my head? (I also recall the logic of the 1960s poster that read: “Killing for Peace is Like Screwing for Virginity.”)

Let’s go a step further. What if, for sake of argument, Operation Rescue was a Muslim organization instead of one that purports to be Christian? We know the answer: It would be on a terrorist watch list and would be infiltrated by the FBI, the CIA, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms, and Tobacco. Hell, it would be infiltrated by ASPCA by now. Think I’m kidding? Ask the decidedly non-terrorist Council on American-Islamic Relations what happened to it after 9/11. Ask anti-Vietnam War movement vets about informants in their ranks. Consult with Greenpeace about this. None of those organizations ever killed anyone, but anti-choice fanatics have committed at least eight homicides (probably nine) since 1993. They have attempted 17 others, and have issued nearly 400 death threats. Since 1977 they have committed 41 bombings, 173 arsons, and over 1200 acts of vandalism. They are responsible for millions of dollars of property damage and untold acts of intimidation, harassment, and trespass.

President Obama pleaded with Americans to find common ground on abortion. He’s naïve. I’m taking a stand. I’ve abolished the term “pro-life” from my vocabulary because it’s a damned lie. I’m done shedding tears over splatter posters of aborted fetuses. I don’t believe those fetuses were life forms, no one can prove they were, and the attempt of to ramrod faith down the throats of others is terror worthy of the Taliban. I want a new constitutional amendment that reaffirms the principle of separation of church and state. I want every anti-choice advocate and religious proselytizer in the country to be in violation of privacy laws if they approach citizens without their consent. And I want Operation Rescue and its ilk be investigated for organized terrorism.

Happy Feet


La Bibournoise

Roues et Archets 012

Is there anything as joyous as a well-done album of Quebeçois music? The latest by Genticorum is very well done indeed. Unlike most Belle Province lineups, there is neither a piano nor accordion; instead Alexandre Moulin de Grosbois-Garand plays flute on most of the tracks. When added to the incessant foot clogging characteristic of Quebeçois music it makes sets such as “La Grondeuse Opossum” feel like the intersection between a gallop and a sashay. When necessary, the flute also serves to hasten the pace, as in “Le Brandy Culotté,” “brandy” in this case the name given to four-part heart-stopping reels played in Québec. Pascal Gemme handles most of the fancy fiddling and Yann Falquet the guitar licks, but all three handle the bow at some point, as showcased for a moment on “Le Pommeau.” Each is also a fine vocalist. Falquet offers a gorgeous treatment to “Le Vingt d’Avril,” a traditional lament of love, war, and tragedy. And the three collaborate on the whimsical title track, an a capella fantasy about a prison whose cells are made of food. If you have any doubt that the world is flat, check out “Valse Beaulieu,” which began life as a gentle waltz to commemorate a town in Scotland. It’s still a waltz, but as filtered through robust clogging and call-and-response singing. C’est bon!

Click here for a YouTube link.